August 27, 2011 was a very special day for my wife and I. It was the day we vowed to spend the rest of our lives together as husband and wife. However, it also marked another significant event. Our financial rock bottom...
We had just graduated schools with $105,000 in student loans combined (I just received my MBA at UCLA and my wife had finished nursing school six months prior at CSULB). After having spent close to $40,000 on the wedding and another $5,000 on the honeymoon, we were officially broke! Or better yet, beyond broke because we not only had spent all our savings on the wedding, but were now indebted to uncle Sam for our student loans.
Thankfully around this time we were introduced to a guy named Dave Ramsey and he helped transform our perspective on money. For most of my life I had ignored sound advice such as “have an emergency fund” or “invest 15% into retirement funds” because I thought the way to riches was to just make more money and saving was for losers. However, at the brink of financial catastrophe, I realized that I was the biggest loser for having thought I knew better.
Both my wife and I immediately drank the Dave Ramsey kool-aid and got to work. Following Dave’s Debt Snowball Method, we listed all our debts from smallest to largest and started paying them off one by one.
We lived off one salary and used the other against the debt
We packed lunches to work (kept the lunch to less than $2 per meal!) and minimized eating out
We vowed no upgrade to cars (both of our vehicles were thankfully paid off)
Most importantly, we meticulously tracked our spending and kept to a strict budget
After 3.5 years, we were able to declare student debt freedom!
What's This Blog About?
Our initial journey to paying down debt taught us an crucial lesson about the importance of financial education. Both my wife and I are children of first generation Korean immigrants. Our parents came to this country without much and built a life of opportunity for their children through hard work, persistence and amazing faith in Jesus Christ (my wife’s parents are Christian missionaries and my parents own a small business). They gave us the gift of opportunity that we can never pay back.
However, not due to their lack of effort, we came into the professional world without knowing how to effectively manage money. Our parents’ sound advice was to “study hard, go to college and get a good job… After that, good luck because I seriously don’t know.” Who could blame them when their own childhood was trying to find the next meal in post-war Korea.
We started this blog to share lessons learned as we navigate the world between Personal Finance + Sandwich Generation. Through our student debt pay-off journey, my wife and I expanded our family with kids, continued to grow our careers and learned to cohabitate with my aging parents.
Some topics you’ll find on this blog are:
Personal Finance 101 (e.g. saving, investing, managing debt, etc.)
Thriving as the Sandwich Generation: Balancing Kids + Aging Parents
What's With the Tortoise?
My wife and I always found inspiration in the children's fable The Tortoise and the Hare. We often joke how we may not be great or fast at anything, but we have staying power just like the tortoise. We are a firm believer that success comes from slow and steady persistence not few bursts of brilliance.
Just like the tortoise that beat the hare through slow and steady doggedness, we strive to win financially following this fable’s timeless principle.